Cantina by Cascabel
1542 Second Ave (80th St)
City: New York, NY
Phone: (212) 717-7800
Site: Visit the restaurant site
Area: East 80s
Walking by this restaurant, your thought process will go like this: Isn’t this the same place that’s just a few doors down on the corner? Why do they have two Cascabels on the same block? Should I bother going here if I’ve already been to the other one?
The answers are: No, it’s not the same restaurant, although it is run by the same company. While its big brother Taqueria specializes in tacos, Cantina by Cascabel doesn’t even have a taco on the menu. Which answers the second question of why the establishments are located so close to each other. And yes, you should go even if you’ve been to the other one.
For such a small restaurant (even the restroom has a hard time fitting, as you need to essentially exit the space to reach it), the menu is extensive. I was glad to see a variety of burritos at an affordable price ($9), so my friend and I tried two different kinds; I had the carnitas and my friend ordered the vegetarian. Both burritos were gigantic and filling. They may not have been anything out of the ordinary, but they definitely did their duty. My other friend decided to sample the pinchos ($6), which are skewers of meat, seafood, or vegetables. Choosing the chicken, she thought she was in for a perfectly normal chicken shish kabob. Instead, what arrived were three sizzling skewers of meat on a plate with a tiny firepit. It was a nice presentation, but a little scary. After a few minutes of flames intermittently spurting up in our faces at the tiny table, we asked the waitress to remove the pot of fire—which she did gladly.
We went with fairly conventional food on our visit, but some of the less traditionally Mexican items on the menu include a hamburger ($12 with “queso” and chipotle ketchup) and what is called the senoran dog ($6), which is a bacon wrapped hot dog with all of the fixings. Mexican cuisine purists may not appreciate the more American offerings, but kids will love being able to have the mini corn dogs and yucca fries ($4 with a drink) from the children’s menu.
So, let’s go over this one more time: if it’s tacos you crave, go down the street to Cascabel Taqueria, but if you’re in the mood for a smaller crowd, a big burrito, and a satisfied stomach, stay right where you are.
Review By: Chelsee Pengal